Meet Wellness for One Writer SAMANTHA POLLACK
I’m a certified holistic health coach and certified personal trainer. I love food – talking about it, reading about it, and impressing people with my cooking. In 2010, I left a stress-inducing career in Boston for the fresh air and mountains of Asheville, NC (there might have been a man involved as well). I run a meal-planning service for families of one or two at Insider Wellness. Also, my mom swears I proclaimed my childfree intentions at age 12!
You can’t shake a stick at the Internet these days without hearing all about KALE. Why is everyone suddenly obsessed with this “superfood?” And, what the heck is a superfood anyway?
The first thing you need to understand is that nutrition is like fashion – crazes come, and crazes go. Right now, kale is the new black. It’s just a cultural phenomenon: we find out something is good for us, and decide WE MUST EAT IT ALL THE TIME EVERY DAY FOREVER. Remember that, and you’ll be somewhat immune to the Next Big Thing. (And the one after that.)
Most nutrition crazes have a basis in truth. Kale is a superfood, which means it packs a wallop of nutrition in each bite – they call this nutritional density. Everyone’s freaking out about kale because: It’s really good for you, it’s easy to get and to prepare, and it doesn’t taste disgusting. Here’s what you need to know, and recipes to try.
ALL dark, leafy greens are superfoods, by the way, because they contain:
• Minerals: Needed for strong bones and healthy blood
• Vitamins: K, C, E, and several B vitamins. (Vitamin K regulates blood clotting, reduces calcium in arterial plaques (good news for the ticker), and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
• Fiber: Promotes healthy digestion and helps us feel more satisfied for longer.
• Chlorophyll: That stuff that makes plants green is surprisingly healthy for humans. It helps the blood carry oxygen to cells and tissues, assists the body in delivering minerals to the cells, AND it helps reduce bad breath, bad moods, and body odor.
Kale also belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Brassicas have cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory powers, in addition to all the benefits of greens.
- Curly green kale (the most recognized) is bright green, with curly leaves and thick stems.
- Russian Red kale is also curly, but has a purplish-reddish hue, and is a little less fibrous. It’s beautiful.
- Lacinato kale (my personal favorite) has tender, dark green leaves and is DELICIOUS. Sometimes you’ll hear this referred to as Dinosaur kale (why, I have no idea). This makes the best kale chips, if you’re wondering.
How to Prepare Any Leafy Green in Just 10 Minutes
1. Fill a large pot or skillet with about two inches of water and bring to a low boil.
2. Fold greens in half lengthwise and cut off the thick stem. In most cases, you can chop this up and add it to the hot water. It needs about two more minutes’ cook time than the leaves.
(Note: for the curly varieties, you can hold the base of the stalk and strip the entire leaf off in one piece. It’s fun, and saves time.)
4. Steam, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until bright green and wilted. Most of the water should evaporate during the cooking process, but you can drain if you need to.
5. Top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Or any oil/spice combination you like (Parmesan cheese and pine nuts are pretty good).
Garlicky Greens (my favorite!)
1. Prep the greens, same as above. Heat a neutral-tasting oil, like sunflower oil, over medium heat.
2. Chop two cloves of garlic and add to skillet with stems. After a minute, add leaves and sauté for 5-8 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic (just keep the heat at medium).
3. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. YUM.
What other health crazes would you like explained? I take requests…
Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed on this page are entirely my own. I am not a medical doctor, licensed nutritionist or registered dietician. I will only endorse activities, products or services reviewed through my own experience and expertise in nutrition and health.